Manhattan El Dorado
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I have linked to the ongoing series of "Geologic City Reports" released every few weeks by the excellent blog Friends of the Pleistocene—which, having launched back in January, receives my vote for Best New Blog of 2010—but the newest installment, #9, is worth singling out. In it, F.O.P. tour the gold reserve vaults of Manhattan.
The New York Federal Reserve bank "is a place where humans have encased geology within geology. They’ve unfolded and refolded stratifications of limestone, sandstone, iron and gold so they could put the gold on the inside—where it can be hyper-protected because of its high, human-assigned value." Think of it as a kind of metallurgical Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.
The authors go on to describe the actual, physical sale of gold bars as "a human-scale chess game playing out in the basement of New York with elemental geology as the pawns."
While you're at it, "Geologic City Reports" 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 are all worth reading, as well.
(Earlier on BLDGBLOG: City of Gold).